Cuba probes al­leged in­ci­dents involving diplo­mats from US

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

HA­VANA — The Cuban For­eign Min­istry said on Wed­nes­day it had started an “ex­haus­tive” in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the bizarre in­ci­dents which the United States said had caused phys­i­cal symp­toms in its diplo­mats serv­ing here. The mat­ter had also re­sulted in the ex­pul­sion of two Cuban diplo­mats from Washington in late May.

Ear­lier on Wed­nes­day, US State De­part­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert told re­porters that the ex­act na­ture of the in­ci­dents was un­clear, but that the af­fected US cit­i­zens had re­turned to the US for non-life-threat­en­ing “med­i­cal rea­sons.” She didn’t give the num­ber of the US cit­i­zens af­fected.

“We don’t have any de­fin­i­tive an­swers about the source or the cause of what we con­sider to be in­ci­dents,” she said, adding that “we take this sit­u­a­tion very se­ri­ously”.

Re­ports said the af­fected US cit­i­zens, who first re­ported in fall of 2016 that some in­ci­dents were caus­ing phys­i­cal symp­toms, suf­fered a severe hear­ing loss.

The Cuban For­eign Min­istry state­ment re­leased late on Wed­nes­day said Ha­vana com­plies strictly and se­ri­ously with its obli­ga­tions un­der the Vi­enna Con­ven­tion on Diplo­matic Re­la­tions of 1961 re­gard­ing the pro­tec­tion and se­cu­rity of diplo­matic agents.

“Cuba has never, nor would it ever, al­low that the Cuban ter­ri­tory be used for any ac­tion against ac­cred­ited diplo­matic agents or their fam­i­lies,” said the state­ment. “Cuba re­it­er­ates its will­ing­ness to co­op­er­ate in the clar­i­fi­ca­tion of this sit­u­a­tion.”

Cuba said it had started a com­pre­hen­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the al­leged inci- dents af­ter it had been in­formed of them by the em­bassy in Fe­bru­ary.

“Var­i­ous en­ti­ties con­ducted an ex­haus­tive, high-pri­or­ity, ur­gent in­ves­ti­ga­tion or­dered by the highest au­thor­i­ties of the Cuban gov­ern­ment and re­quested the US em­bassy to share in­for­ma­tion on these in­ci­dents,” said the state­ment. Mean­while, Cuba had strength­ened se­cu­rity around the US em­bassy, diplo­matic and staff res­i­dences.

The Cuban For­eign Min­istry state­ment also called the US de­ci­sion to ex­pel two Cuban diplo­mats based in Washington “un­jus­ti­fied and baseless.”

The US and Cuba of­fi­cially re­sumed diplo­matic re­la­tions in July 2015, more than five decades af­ter they were sev­ered.

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